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March 9, 2020

The Sacredness of Listening

Father Jonathan Sawicki is the Diocese’s Vocations Director. Not too long ago, I had the privilege of accompanying him to a vocations awareness day in the southwestern part of our Diocese.

I truly LOVE talking vocations: the unique call of God to be holy! The journey to be holy is a life-long experience and is as unique and individual as each of us are!

After Father and I discussed how we discerned our individual vocations, we opened up to a session of questions and answers. I have been in the “nun business” long enough to hear the same questions from young folks about religious life. However, on this day, I was asked a question that never was asked before: “Sister, I know your function as a religious is different than a priest. But how do you see your vocation fitting into the Church?”

I paused, asking the Holy Spirit to give me the words that would truly answer what this young woman was searching for. I said, “The vocation to the priesthood is unique because through ordination, the man becomes an alter christus; another Christ. Through his liturgical actions and words, Christ’ body, blood, soul and divinity becomes present to us and our sin becomes forgiven. This is unique to the priesthood. What a gift it is! Religious life, on the other hand, points to Christ’s Kingdom here and now. It announces to the world where Christ is. I am a voice crying out, ‘There is Jesus! Look!’” Father and I exchanged glances and I thought, “WOW! Where did that come from? I never used that image before!”

As I drove back to Harrisburg I could not help reflect on the sacredness of that moment for me. Since then, I have come to realize that there is an incredible hunger within our society for the sacred, for individuals to point that out.

Kay Lindahl, author of The Sacred Art of Listening: Forty Reflections for Cultivating a Spiritual Practice, writes, “Listening deeply to source, self, and others is at the heart of [the need to talk about the crucial issues concerning the meaning of life and the nature of death.] An undercurrent of sacred experience appears to be ready to surface. … Creating safe spaces to share these experiences, developing ways to elicit stories of sacred experience, and encouraging compassionate action are challenges and opportunities for all of us.” 1

Finding the sacred in the midst of life gives us the perspective that we are not alone. We are connected, not just through social media, but rather because the core of our being is God, we are joined to the past and the present and look to the future. Those sacred moments, those “God winks,” bridge time with eternity.

Own them! Proclaim them! Share them! Become holy!

1Lindahl, Kay. The Sacred Art of Listening: Forty Reflections for Cultivating a Spiritual Practice. SkyLight Paths Pub., 2002. Pg. 60

By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, Special to The Witness

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